Profile of the visitors to Connemara in a typical year.

Overseas Origins: UK 44%, Europe 36%, Nth America 15%, Others 05%

Visit/Revisit: First Visit 60%, Repeat Visit 36%, Irish Born 04%

Age: 45+ 40%, 25 to 34 23%, Under 25 21%, 35 to 44 16%

Timing: Jan to March 18%, Apr to June 28%, July and August 23%, Sept to Dec 31%

Planning: Internet 82%, Guide Books 18%, Travel Agent 18%, Friend/Family 15%

Deciding: Internet 76%, Guide Books 24%, Travel Agent 18%, Friend/Family 28 %

Booking online: Travel Tickets 97%, Accommodation 70%, Car Hire 24%, Other 04%

Type of Visits: Holidays 46%, Friends/Family 30%, Business 16%, Other 08%

Popular Activities: Walking and Hiking, Golf , Angling, Cycling, Equestrian

Accommodation: Self Catering 28%, Friends/Family 28%, Hotels 18%, Guesthouse/B+B 08%, Hostels/camping 05%

Spending: Food and Drink 35%, Bed and Board 26%, Shopping 15%, Activities etc 13%, Transport 11%

Important item: Friendliness 97%, Safety 94%, Scenery 91%, Culture/Heritage 91%, Environment 91%

Satisfaction With: Friendliness 99%, Scenery 98%, Safety 97%, Culture/Heritage 94%, Environment 93%

Irish Visitor Accommodation: Hotels 39%, Self Catering 18%, Holiday home 13%, Friends/relatives 13%, Guesthouse/B+B 0.4%

Irish Visitor Activities: National Parks 23%, Castles/Houses 22%, Walking / Hiking 22%, Water sports 22%, Spas/Health 20%

Overview: Email is one of the most important business and personal channels of communication. Each day over 150 billion emails are sent globally of which 61% was considered non essential or spam.

Using Email: Email should be used as an integrated part of a marketing / communications strategy.

Gather Emails: Ask your customers if they have an email address and if they would like to be kept up to date , receive offers or discounts by email

Store the Addresses: Creating an Excel spreadsheet to store your email addresses is a fast easy way to store them. Also store the name / family name

Use a Tool: Mail chimp has a powerful free option for sending bulk emails. It also manages unsubscribe request and gives great statistics.

Plan your Emails: Plan your emails carefully. A good headline, short concise text and good branding all help to get emails opened and read

Good Headlines: 33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone.  A simple test is to ask yourself, friends or family if they think it is good

Best Headlines: Subject lines fewer than 10 characters long have an open rate of 58%.  Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened.

Message Context: Consider the context of the Email. Is it trying to get interest in a product or service, selling or offering help / support?

Message Content: Prepare different versions of the content. Ask yourself, friends or family if the content fits the context. Would they read the Email?

Focus the Content: Tailor the message content to the needs of your Email recipients. General emails fail to engage recipients and cause them to unsubscribe

Don’t be Spam: Ensure that the subject line and the content do not contain words that cause the Email to be blocked by spam filters.

Be a Trusted Sender: Ask recipients to put your Email address into their trusted sender list. This will help avoid your Emails being blocked.

Graphics: Use graphics carefully. Many Email filters and security software block Emails with graphics because these can be a security risk.

Attachments: Attachments to Emails increase the size of the message and are the major cause for Emails being blocked. Use a link instead.

Frequency of Emails: On average a person gets between 10—20 Emails a day. Email users are very negative about receiving to many or repeat mails.

Best Email Days: Most studies support that sending emails on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday will yield the best results. Avoid Monday and the Weekend.

Best Email Times: Early morning emails have the worst read rate. Emails sent between 11 and 13.00 have the highest. Evening Emails vary in read rates

Timing Strategy: Emails sent between 3—5 days  before an event or offer , are best.  Day of event emails are ineffective.

Follow Up  Strategy: Emails may remain unread for 3—7 days. Reminders sent inside that time cause up to a 21% unsubscribe rate from recipients

Links in Emails: Make links visible and explain what it goes to. Links should always be  in the first visible part of the Email not low down in it.

Links and Graphics: Making a graphic into a link may look good. The problem is that the link is invisible and the graphic may cause the Email to be blocked.

Test Your Mail: A simple test is to send it to a friend or family member and see if the  Email gets received, is opened and is interesting.

Test your Addresses: On average 17% of Email addresses stop working each year. Make sure you test you customer Email addresses . Phone them if an email fails.

Sales  / Social Media: Monday has the highest Email driven sales. Emails have a high click through rate to social media. Women open 10% more Emails than men.

Answer Emails promptly: When you get an email from a customer or supplier answer them quickly. Delayign can cost you money.


Overview: Every business should have a web site.  Those without even a simple a web site are at an immediate and growing  competitive disadvantage. A web site is a key and valuable asset for a business.  It allows existing and potential customers to browse your products and services before they visit your business. It can also be a way to generate new revenues.

Buy a domain: Every business should create and buy its brand domain name . This will protect and add to your business value and is brand assets.

Own Your Domain: Your domain name is a key asset like your brand name. Make sure you register it in your name and NOT that of your web developer.

Create a Web page: Every business should have at least a simple web page for its brand. This allows customers to at least know who you are and what you offer.

Plan a Web site: Businesses should plan their web site carefully before making one. The web site should support the business brand and activities.

Find a Developer: If you don’t have the tools or skills to develop a site yourself find competent and reputable developers and ask for a quote.

Getting a Quote: Send your detailed web site plan and what you expect to be delivered to a list of developers so they can compete for the work.

A Good Quote: A good quote is one that gives costs for designing, Developing and maintaining the site.  The cheapest quote may not be the best value.

Use Contracts: Always have a signed contract for your web site work. This legally defines what you are paying for and the terms of the work.

Be Involved: The contract should have regular review built into it. This allows you to manage the progress, quality and changes to the site

Good Visuals: Pictures and video should be of high quality and be brand aligned. Your developer should help you get the best visual impact.

Good Text: Good grammar and spelling is critical for clarity and translation. Avoid using slang or local terms for site text.

Key Information: A good site makes it easy for a user to understand the who, what, why when, where and how of your business and web site.

Branding: A web site is a brand asset and should be designed to support and enhance your brand. It should have your logo, tag lines and themes.

Colours: The colours used on the web site should either be the same as or compliment your brand colours and shop decor.

Links: Provide links to local information, businesses and activities that compliment your brand. This adds value to your site and customers.

Contact Details: Your web site will be viewed by people who have never been to your shop. Give FULL details of who and where you are plus how the get there.

Testing: Your developer should have regular reviews of the work so you can test the site and make sure it is what you want  and of good quality.

Outside Opinions: Get others to test the site especially before the work is finished. Ask them to be brutal with their comments. Customers will certainly be.

Launching the Site: Launching your web site is a major business event. Plan to communicate it to your existing customers and perhaps have a launch event.

Promoting the Site: Your web address should be on all marketing, promotion, branding  and advertising materials. If not you are wasting your money.

Keeping it Fresh: An easy way to keep your web site fresh is by embedding Facebook, twitter and other dynamic information sources to it.

Site Maintenance: Site maintenance should be part of the contract with your developer. It should be done regularly or immediately a problem is found.

Site Statistics: Your web site should have Google Analytics. This ensures you can see who visits the site, when, from where and what they do.

Site Upgrades: Your business changes over time and your web site needs to reflect these changes. Always plan web updates in your business change plans.

Overview: New products and services are the lifeblood of all businesses. Investing in their development is crucial to business growth, customer retention, competing and profitability. Identifying and developing new products or services needs careful planning and should include management, staff, customers and even your competition.

Lifecycle: Any product or service has a 5 phase lifecycle. Understanding and planning how to manage this is essential to their commercial success

1) Development: This is the phase where you identify, research analyse, develop and market test a new product or service.

2) Introduction: This is the phase where you introduce the product or service to the market. Most spending is on marketing and advertising.

3) Growth: In this phase the product and service is being bought by customers. Managing costs and unit price is the key focus here.

4) Maturity: Growth in this phase is slowing or stopped. There is competition that drives down cost. Value addition is key to competitiveness.

5) Decline: Sales and profits fall. More marketing is not effective. Opening new markets can help. New products or services are needed.

Lifecycle Speed: Physical product lifecycles can be decades in length. Information services may only exist for days, weeks or months.

Lifecycle stage ?: Businesses should analyse their products and services and decide where in their lifecycle they are. Are new offers needed and when?

New Ideas: Ask staff and customers for ideas. Check out your competitors. Read the trade newspapers and magazines for new ideas. 

Think Customer: Do the ideas you have gathered fulfill customer needs? Make their lives better? Give value for money?

Think Capability: Does your business have the funds, technologies, skills and facilities to create, manage, sell and support the new product or service?

Think Strategy: Map the new product and service ideas to your business strategy. Do they fit or do you need to adjust your strategy?

Core: New ideas that fit well into your core offer are the easiest to manage but there may not be many that you don’t already have.

Core Supportive: These are product and services ideas that support and compliment your core offer. These are useful in cross selling and up selling.

Core Adjacent: These are products and services that are not core but could eventually be  core because they are logically close to your business strategy.

New Departure: These are ideas that are completely new to your business offer. They are the most difficult to develop, sell and manage.

An Ideas Pot: Every business  should have a list of ideas available that is added to or actioned. This forms a key resource for fast business development.

Vetting Ideas: Deciding on what ideas could be actioned should involve management and staff and focus on fit, costs, customers, timing and profitability.

External reviews: Ask your suppliers, customers and others to review your ideas. They can provide insights that your team may have missed.

Practical Ideas: Ideas on the list should be prioritised for action.  This means creating and implementing a budgeted development plan for them.

Impractical Ideas: Ideas that are not practical now may be in the future. Note down why they were not actioned and review them regularly.

Confidentiality: Many businesses insist on “Non Disclosure Agreements” when asking for external input to the idea  review process.

Funding It: There are a growing number of grants and vouchers available for businesses looking to create new products and services.

Project Management: The  use of proper project management processes helps increase the chances of success in the development and roll out processes.

Legal: Include  legal and regulatory compliance reviews early in the project process. Non compliance will waste your time and resources.

Environment: Examine the environmental, energy and waste aspects of new products and services. 
Prioritise ones that have a positive process, cost or image impact.

Market needs: All new products and services have to address a market need. A good idea to you might not appeal to enough customers to make a difference.

Market Research: This can be carried out using staff input, asking customers, reading, suggestion boxes, online and face to face surveys.

Analysis: Ensure that you set clear market size targets for analysis purposes. This should include points of break even and minimum uptake .

Is it Unique? : New product and service should have one or more  unique selling points that differentiates it from competitive offers.

Is it Risky?: Be very honest in analysing the financial and commercial risks involved. Set clear criteria for a go / no go decision on an idea.

Can it be Copied?: New products and services that are difficult or impossible for competitors to copy should have a high priority.

Benefits: Clearly identify and quantify the benefits to the customer. This is a key consideration in setting a price for the new product or service.

Outsourcing: Some products and services may be best supplied to your customers from other suppliers. This can reduce costs, keep capability and make money.

Insourcing: Over time there may be products and service that you source externally that you decide can be more effectively provided by you.

Shared Services: Examine opportunities for services that can be  built with others and provided to the market. Information services a prime candidates.

Release Timing: Decide on when you want to introduce the new product or service. All planning should work back from this point.

Uptake Speed: Setting targets for the speed of uptake is essential. This helps to manage production runs, stock levels and reduces losses if the item fails to sell.

Pricing: Establish pricing scenarios that give a positive margin but which can be introduced to assist in uptake and competitive positioning.

Sales Channels: Decide on the best sales channels to use. Some products and services will only be compatible  with certain sales channels.

Support Strategy: Carefully analyse the support costs of new products and services. These need to be factored in the pricing .

Long term: Plan a long term strategy for the product and ensure provision is made  for upgrades and improvements over time

Justify It: All decisions on investing more in a product or service needs to be fully cost / benefit justified. This process helps avoid waste and failure.

Phased Upgrades: Do not introduce all the aspects of a new product or service at launch. Some may be able to be phased to gain future competitive benefits.

Prototyping: Many businesses run trials of multiple new products and services to test the market reaction to them. Only the best are retained.

External Offers: Your suppliers may have new products and services they want to market test. Negotiate  to be part of such trials.

Market Teasing: The imminent availability of a new product or service can be used in advertising to tease customers and create advanced interest / demand.

Pre Order: Customers can be offered to pre order new products or be first to get the service. This quickly identified likely demand levels.

Customer References: Positive reactions of early buyers can be a powerful way to generate market notice for new products and services.

Bad Comments: These are the most  useful of all feedback. Collect them and analyse them quickly. They may drive changes that ensure market success.

Marketing levels: Carefully plan marketing and advertising campaigns that are designed and costed to support the life cycle phase of the offer.

Competition Entry: Plan how to react when a competitive offer enters the market. Strategies can include pricing, marketing, value add, upgrade or exit.

Counter Launch: Always have at least one new product or service available for rapid launch. This helps recapture customer interest.

Pump It: If you did it first don’t be afraid to use words like “Original” “First” “ Market leader” in counter competitive marketing.

Exit planning: Have an exit plan for any product or service. This means establishing trigger points for when you stop offering it to a market.

Be Brutal: Any products or service that no longer positively contribute to  your strategy or profitability should be eliminated without sentiment.

Overview: Value add refers to "extra" feature (s) of an product or service that go beyond the standard expectations and provide something "more" while adding little or nothing to its cost. Adding value can give a competitive edge to businesses even when they supply more costly products, are smaller or more specialised than their competitors.

What Is It?: Value add is when a customer is given a feature or add-on that gives them a greater sense of value from a product and  the business.

Information: Information value add is where a customer is given richer information than expected on product before, during and after they buy.

Process: This is value that is added when the customer performs a process. This can be loyalty points, new service, upgrades etc.

Personal: Personal value add is where a customer can choose what additional features or services they want at no extra cost. 

Time: This form of value add is often used in offering extended guarantees, warranties or support to customers.

Service: Service value add is where a standard service is augmented with additional benefits on a short or long term basis.

Sales: Sales value add is where a customer is provided with additional products, information or benefits at the time of sale.

Delivery: Value add in delivery can include low cost / high value items like specific timing, out of hours, tracking, tracing, redelivery etc. 

After sales: Following up with customers after a purchase and offering assistance if needed is a popular value added service. 

Product Care: Having discounts pre-negotiated with product care specialists is a powerful way to add value at no cost to customers.

Upgrades: Providing upgrades or enhancements to products or services outside the contract terms increases customer repeat purchases. 

Disposal: Helping customers to dispose of obsolete or broken products is increasingly used as a value added service.

Tools: Providing customers with tools and support related to their use of the product and service adds value and builds loyalty.

Social Media: Social media can add value for customers by building a community of interest that adds value through contact and experience sharing.

Emergencies: Offering rapid support, help and advice when something goes wrong with a product can be a low cost infrequently called on value add.

Sales Channels: Value added elements can be used to encourage customers to trade with you by using your preferred channel Eg Web.

Support Channels: Support channels can also be a segmented and have different levels of value addition to encourage customers to the lowest cost one.

Identifying Value Add: Think about your products and services. Ask customers, family and friends what they think would be useful and beneficial. 

Other businesses: Examine the value added elements offered by competitors and other businesses to identify Value Add candidates.

Linked Value Add: Examine and see if there are services that you receive free from suppliers that could be passed on the customers as value add.

Co Competition: In some cases value added items are created with local competitors in order to retain local customer business in a local market.

Value add costs: Value added items will have a cost. These need to be calculated and factored into your overall pricing strategy.

Game Changers: Value added capabilities can sometimes be integrated to your normal product offer as a way to change the market you are in.

Its Value: Value added items and services can increase customer loyalty by 20% and lifetime purchases by 15%.

Overview: The easiest definition of a service is that it is the action of helping or doing work for someone. Businesses provide many kinds of services: Business service is work that supports a business but does not produce a tangible commodity. Customer service is the assistance and advice provided by a company to those who buy or use its products or services. Business may also provide community services which are volunteered work for the benefit a community or its institutions.

Sales Services: These are services that focus on getting an initial sale and long term repeat business.  Many types of sales services are used by different businesses.

Customer Services: These are the service used to assist or support customers during their relationship with a business. Sector norms exist for these.

Delivery Services: These are services that deliver product to customers. They are critical for those selling online and useful for physical shops.

Care Services: Care services are those that help customers to operate, maintain or repair products. These can be  critical to customer loyalty.

Service Map: Examine your business to identify and group the services you provide internally to customers and elsewhere.

Service gaps: Do a service map of your competitors. This will identify service advantages you have and ones you are not supplying.

Service Costs: Services cost money because they use staff time and company resources. They should therefore be cost analysed and allocated.

Service Benefits: Many service benefits are soft and do not generate revenue. They do have benefits. Ask customers how much they value your services.

Managing Services: Services need to be well managed . Those that are too costly, underperforming or uncompetitive should be withdrawn.

Creating Services: Services are designed to  provide help and value to customers. Identify customer needs and address them.

Service Targets: Services can be focused to specific groups or needs. Many businesses use additional services to reward loyal customers

Service focus: Services are often focused to specific areas of business activity to gain competitive advantage or attract new customers.

Basic Services: Basic services are those legally required or  a norm in a business sector. Without these businesses can not operate or be competitive.

Value Add Services: These are services that provide help or support  in addition to the basic product  offer. They are very attractive to customers.

Free Services: Many services are “free” in that their costs are sunk in the purchase price of a product.  Price must include service costs.

Paid Services: Some services are so valuable or costly that they can be charged for. Service pricing is calculated like that of any product.

Trade for Services: These are services where the customer does something that gains them access to a service for a limited or extended period.

Supplying Services: Services are generally delivered face to face or online. Face to face services are most powerful. Online ones are usually self service.

Service Metrics: Service  metrics usually include the cost per unit supplied, Time to supply, volume supply, customer perceptions and feedback

Service Contribution: Service benefits need to be accounted for. They are often wholly or partially allocated to areas sales, marketing, loyalty, competitive advantage.

War Chest: Having a selection of services that can be quickly launched when there is a competitive threat is a highly effective counter competitive strategy.

Staff Services: Some services such as training and personal development can be supplied to staff. Identify services like these and encourage their use.

Service Change: Changing and improving a  service can be a very useful way to create a reason to contact existing and potential customers.

Bad Service Cost: A 25% drop in loyalty among customers who experience a service problem is normal. Dissatisfied customers will tell an average of 10 others.

Overview: In business a product is defined as a good, idea, method, information, object or service that is created and serves a customer need. It is a mix of tangible (physical) and intangible attributes (benefits, features, functions, uses) that a seller offers to a buyer (consumer or another business ) for face to face or online purchase.

Product Market: Analyse your product sales mix on a regular basis to identify products that are not selling well.  Consumer trends and taste change over time.

Identify Markets: Analyse other suppliers with similar products or in similar markets. This will give you an idea the market your product can fit into.

Uniqueness: Identify  features or benefits that differentiates your product. This is the core of your product marketing.

Product Priorities: Prioritise products that have a Unique Selling Point. These are easier to sell, set you apart and can have a higher price.

Expertise: Knowing a product well and training staff to sell its benefits adds value to the product and the helps customers.

Unique Products: Businesses with a unique, self produced product for sale have far more pricing flexibility online and offline.

Product Pricing: Effective product pricing is essential. The core price depends on the cost of doing business and the number and quality of each product sold.

Dynamic Pricing: Products need to be sold as quickly as possible to reduce holding costs and avoid the chances of obsolescence.

Product Lifecycle: Your prices may change over time depending on the lifespan of your products and to clear old stock for newer higher profit products.

Product Bundles: Some businesses bundle products together to increase sales. This reduces the item margin of each but helps move stock / lower holding costs.

Product Value: Price can be higher than competitors when the support / service provided is trusted and valued by customers.

Product online: If your product is unique sell it online at a higher price than in your shop. This increases local sales and gets higher profits online.

Promote It: Advertise that the unique product is X% cheaper in your shop than it is online. This can attracts local and visiting customers.

Old Products: Very old stock can be very attractive to niche market groups. This is especially true of vintage or out of trend products.

Niche Products: Ask customers if there are products that they cannot find or would like you to stock. Keep the stock limited so it seems special.

Expected Products: If there are products that are standard for your type of business, always have them in stock. Customers expect nothing else.

Product Ordering: When launching a new product line allow valued customers to order them in advance. This indicates demand and drives sales.

Product drawdown: If you are eliminating a product line let customers know so they can order the remaining stock before you close the product line.

Co Production: some products can be tailored to customer needs or be made to specification. This is a powerful way to gain customer loyalty.

Information: Provide customers with as much information as you can on the products they buy. This adds value and customers appreciate it.

Product Disposal: Helping customers dispose of products bought from you is increasingly used as a new service offer. Electrical and clothing disposal is common.

Product Returns: Businesses with a flexible returns policy and an easy returns process have a big competitive advantage.

Warranties: Make sure that customers are aware of the warranties and any guarantees that are attached to the products they buy.

Judge it Yourself: Examine your products. Ask yourself if you would find the product quality, selection and support is worth the price.